Please click here to read the English translation of the letter that the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) recently sent President Obama and Members of the U.S. Congress highlighting their opposition to the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Colombia and the U.S. under its' present guidelines. ONIC's position to the FTA is important to consider because this entity represents 102 indigenous peoples that recognize trade an essential element for development in the context of a globalized world. The ONIC is particularly concerned that the current guidelines of the FTA:
- Violate the constitutionally guaranteed cultural rights of Colombia's indigenous peoples.
- Promote increased expropriation of natural resources from indigenous territories without the consent of the communities, their leaders and authorities.
- Privatize and convert the knowledge of plant and animal life that indigenous persons have cultivated through millennia-old traditions into capital wealth.
- Promote internal displacement, water privatization, the use of transgenics, weaken labor rights and work conditions, and will lead to decreased living standards and health by further privatizing social services.
The ONIC calls on President Obama and Members of the U.S. Congress to change the present guidelines found in the Colombia- U.S. FTA and to construct new guidelines for a more just, mutually beneficial and environmentally sustainable agreement that upholds human rights and labor standards. We hope that you consider the concerns expressed by the indigenous peoples of Colombia when determining what steps need to be taken vis a vis the pending U.S.-Colombia FTA agreement.